(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, alongside Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), reintroduced the Access to Birth Control Act in the Senate. Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, Chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Representative Robin Kelly, and Representative Katie Porter, reintroduced the bill in the House.

The legislation—which has been endorsed by 50 national and local advocacy organizations—would guarantee patients’ timely access to birth control at the pharmacy—including by addressing pharmacies’ refusals of contraception that prevent patients from obtaining their preferred form of birth control medication.

“Birth control is essential health care—full stop. And it’s health care that helps ensure everyone can control their own bodies, lives and futures,” said Senator Murray.  “With reproductive rights under attack from every angle, we’ve got to stand up and make clear that no one should be able to come between a patient and the birth control they need—including being turned away at the pharmacy.”

According to the National Women’s Law Center, pharmacists have refused to fill prescriptions for birth control or provide emergency contraception over the counter to patients in 24 states and the District of Columbia. In addition, the ongoing coronavirus crisis has exacerbated barriers to contraception access, with one in three women experiencing delays in obtaining their birth control during the pandemic.

The Access to Birth Control Act ensures patients seeking FDA-approved contraception, including emergency contraception and medication related to contraception, are able to access it in a timely manner and not be prevented from doing so by a pharmacy. 

  • If a contraception medication is out of stock, the bill requires pharmacies to either refer the patient to another pharmacy or order the medication, depending on the patient’s preference.
  • The bill also protects patients from being intimidated, threatened, or harassed by pharmacy employees who personally object to the use of contraception.
  • In the event that a pharmacy violates one of these requirements, the bill establishes liability for civil penalties for the pharmacy and a private cause of action for patients to seek relief.

Click here to read a summary of the Access to Birth Control Act.

Click here to read the full legislative text of the Access to Birth Control Act.

Click here to read the full list of Members introducing the Access to Birth Control Act.

Click here to read the full list of organizations endorsing the Access to Birth Control Act.